Trips down memory lane and why book awards may matter, or not.Posted: December 1, 2011
This week has had its ups and downs, as most do. In between them all, I’ve been blessed by “visits” from some loved ones who are gone. I’m not saying I saw their ghosts, or had psychic connections or anything, but sometimes a little thing will trigger specific memories, and for just a moment it’s like they’re smiling down at me. A private joke or a passed note, if you will. Maybe it’s the holidays. Maybe it’s the perpetual lack of sleep. Anyway, for what it’s worth, yesterday as I came to job #2, coming around the corner I saw a gentleman who could have passed for my grandfather from a distance. Same posture and stance, same little bald spot, same style clothing. Luckily, from the front and up close the resemblance faded. He still made me think “Hi Pop.” Tonight I looked up and saw another reminder of him at work. For 39 years he worked for the local newspaper, the News-Sentinel, and our house ALWAYS had a 3-month wall calendar emblazoned with their logo. I think they were supposed to be gifts to advertisers or some such. Either way, another smile, another memory. How I never noticed it before (I’ve been here about 3 months) I’ll never know.
I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s always something small like that. I wonder what things will trigger memories of me? I hope that wherever they are, all those whom I think of know that they are remembered and loved.
The stroll down memory lane that those moments start leads to my next topic. My life can be cataloged by the authors and books that I read at different times, or re-read, as the case may be. I can’t see some covers or even titles without a similar memory trigger as the calendar on the wall just gave me. There are some books I wish I could find and re-read again. I can remember where they were in my Elementary School library or the local branch, their color in that weird binding material libraries used, how they captured my imagination and interest, but cannot for the life of me remember the title or author. Still, they stayed with me, inanimate reminders of who I was, what I was interested in.
The school I work at (and several I have worked at) does something called SSR (Sustained Silent Reading). Students and Teachers are supposed to read for 10 minutes at the beginning of class as a way to foster literacy. In theory, the students get into the habit of carrying a book, reading when they can, and generally increase their literacy. I love my 10 min break in the middle of the day. It totally saves my sanity. Some of the kids feel the same way. They’re the ones chuckling at their books, books already out when I say “ok it’s time”, still reading as I start class. Then there are the ones who just stare at the pages of whatever the novel for English class is. Or the ones who have their own book, but it’s been the same book all year and I would bet WAY more cash than I have available that they have NO IDEA what the book is about. They make me sad. How do you foster genuine love of reading? How do you make “required” reading an internal motivation, not a meaningless list? How will they catalog their memories: video games they played at a certain age? Twitter feeds they followed in HS? Episodes of Jersey Shore? Cell phones they had?
I think for me, that’s where all these awards and recommended books MAY have a special value. If you can grab someone’s attention with ONE good book, maybe they’ll read another. On the other hand, maybe it’s not the award winner that will do it. Maybe it’s Captian Underpants/Twilight/Vampire Diaries or whatever that kid thinks is cool. Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble. It’s been a week. Back to awards tomorrow w/ Asian American Themed Awards.